New Zealand need some help first trip
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Apr 1, 2013 11:26 AM Last Post By: Nice_But__
Mar 17, 2013 1:35 PM
New Zealand need some help first tripWe just started planning our trip. We only have 14 days in NZ so not a lot of time.. we will be in Australia first.. Melbourne for 5 days then will come to either Wellington and head south to Queenstown and then to Sydney for 3 days before going home.
I had wanted to see Able Tasman Park but may have to give that up due to time constraints as it seems it takes awhile to get from one place to another so if we don't do Able Tasman then we will be going from CC to Queenstown and cut out Able Tasman
Once in CC.. not sure how many days to hang there and what would be considered day trips from there. Thinking about getting from one place to another buy bus or train and then maybe renting a car to get around while we are in each home base the think is not sure where home base should be for what.. Christ Church was one thought then take the Trans alpine train to graymouth and then head south from there.. we want to see some of the glaciers, Mt Cook, Milford sound.. possibly Wanaka and Te Anau we like to hike--photography --but not into extreme adventures:) We are not sure if one stays in one place and does some of these sights as day trips
So my questions are
what would make the most sense in terms of where to stay as a home base?..
what might be a good route to hit the sights mentioned ?
how much time would be advised (considering our limited time) to stay in each area?
Where would be advised to have a car and when can we bus it?
Any and all advice would be appreciated!
Mar 18, 2013 1:01 PM
1My first recommendation is that with the limited amount of time that you have you should hire a car.
Although New Zealand is a small country and distances between towns are quite small, driving times are deceptively long as the roads are often narrow and windy, with limited chances for overtaking slow vehicles.
The route I would suggest is from Christchurch to Mt Cook, where you can do a day walk up to Sealy Tarns to get good views of the Mt Cook and the Hooker Glacier (weather permitting).
Then to Wanaka and over the Crown range to Queenstown, where you could base yourselves for a few days - lots to do and see. From there you can drive to Te Anau, (which is a lot less hectic than Queenstown) and on to Milford Sound.
Mar 22, 2013 9:03 PM
Mar 23, 2013 8:20 AM
3Thanks for all that.. its hard to get a sense of how far things are from each other and I see that the home base idea is not realistic.. although where we can we are trying to avoid driving the longer distances and using the bus so my H who does all the driving gets to see the scenery rather than having to focus on the road---clearly much more relaxing.. so the trade off is bus schedules.. but I think I can work that out.
is Queenstown as a base really not worth it--we were thinking to stay 3 nights and while there day trip to Banks Penins. and Akaroa but perhaps that is not worth seeing compared to other places?
I found a lovely place to stay in Queenstown so one reason why I thought we might be able to do day trips from there but if I am better off spending time going say to dunedin and Otago Peninsula with the time we have then I want to know that..
Mar 23, 2013 6:38 PM
4Thisi is my revised schedule
Fly into CC
1.CC day trip to Banks/Akaroa
2.CC day trip to Lyttleton/ cc volcano area
3.Tranzalpine train to Greymouth then get car and drive to Franz G
4 Franz and Fox
5 Franz and Fox
8. Mt Cook
9. Te Anau (glow worms)
10. Milford sound From Te Anau
14 Fly to Sydney
I have cut out dunedin and opted not to circle back to CChurch.. to allow more time on the west coast..
Is that a mistake??
Mar 24, 2013 11:03 AM
Mar 24, 2013 12:33 PM
Mar 24, 2013 4:26 PM
Mar 25, 2013 4:48 AM
8Out of curiosity, when are you going? I can't see dates/a season mentioned anywhere.
I went to NZ - South Island for the first time recently, also for about 14 days. Travelled entirely on the South Island and loved it. Even with 14 days we missed a lot, so I'd happily go back again. We did a CH-CH loop, and focused on nature and enjoying the outdoors.
Using my (admittedly limited) experience, I suggest these modifications/ideas:
1. Ditch Wanaka. I stayed there, and it was beautiful, but also not a 'top moment'. The time is probably better used elsewhere, unless you're going to use it as a base to explore the Mt Aspiring NP
2. There is no point in travelling from Wanaka to Mt Cook, then to Te Anau the next day - you'll be in the car for 8-9+ hours! You're looking at at least 3 - if not more - hours to Mt Cook from Wanaka, and 5.5-6 or so to get from Mt Cook to Te Anau (I speak from experience of the latter). Mt Cook is well worth visiting (weather contingent). We had glorious weather and went on the terminal lake, did a helicopter ride (extravagant but worth it if the weather is good - being at the top of the Tasman was amazing) and walked the Hooker Valley Track, which was fantastic - great views everywhere you looked!
3. I'd perhaps add an extra day in Te Anau - the weather in Fiordland is notoriously rainy. We stayed in Te Anau for 4 nights and did plenty of walking - as well as a day trip down to Invercargill via the Southern Scenic Route. You could do a full day hike incorporating either end of the Kepler Track.
4.Driving into Milford is a must - personally, I found the road to the Sound more spectacular than the Sound itself, and would happily go back to do more walks along it. On the advice of posters on this forum, we drove in really early and did walks along the way - Key Summit is 2.5-3 hours return and is worth every uphill moment. It's worth detouring along the Hollyford Road to do the 20 minute return walk to Marian Falls. The Chasm was worth a visit, but swarming with tourists, where Key Summit and Lake Marian Falls are much quieter. We then took the last late afternoon cruise - hardly anyone was around and we were the only boat out, with less than a dozen people on board. A great way to enjoy the Sound. You could probably wait for a good forecast and book ahead the day before if it looks like the forecast is going to hold true.
5. We did 2 nights in Franz/Fox as well - just be prepared for any proposed glacier hikes to be scuppered by rain - it poured when we were on the West Coast and our helihike was cancelled. Also bear in mind that heavy rain along the West Coast can impact your travel, and leave a full day for travelling south from Franz/Fox. If you have a good day, you can do walks along the Haast Pass. If you have a rainy day, you could end up waiting in Haast for several hours like we did, due to 7/8 landslides along the Haast Pass.
6. Check their National Parks websites - plenty of good pdf brochures with information about walks in all the NPs.
7. I'm not a massive city/large town fan when travelling, so wasn't hugely enamoured of Queenstown, but it was a good base for a couple of days. We did the Dart River Jet Safari, which I really enjoyed (bear in mind that due to a landslip the Dart no longer looks blue, but muddy grey - I didn't care though, had a great time). Even if you don't do it, get out to Glenorchy - gets you away from the tourists in Qtown and you can do some walks. The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is stunning.
8. Arthur's Pass was lovely, but only worth visiting with good weather. The drive up from CH is beautiful (some great views over the Waimakariri River and up into the Southern Alps), and you can see the limestone Castle Hill landscape on the way up.
Our itinerary was CH - Arthur's Pass (2) - Franz (2) - Wanaka (1) - Queenstown (2) - Te Anau (4) - Mt Cook (2) - CH (1). Our 1 night in CH was more to make sure that we weren't driving up from Mt Cook on the day of our flight in case anything happened. There isn't much in CH at the moment (understandable) but the Botanical Gardens are quite pretty and you could always visit an area outside the city (as I saw in your tentative itinerary).
I hope that this is in some way helpful and that I haven't overwhelmed you with information.
Mar 25, 2013 6:07 PM
9Thanks for all your advice.. its so interesting that some people say oh don't spend too much time here and be sure to spend extra time there and then someone else will say the opposite:) most of what I am hearing however is very much the same.. We may just drop one day in CC and then just spend the half day we arrive and then one full day to check out Banks pennes. and the little French town there.
I would like to see mt cook the biggest issue we are having is trying to figure the best way to route to it without losing too much time. I hear what you are saying about not going back and forth from Wanaka and Te Anau to from mt cook but we don't want to do a loop as we want to fly back from Queenstown however we may have no logical choice in order to do the tranzalpine train through authors pass and not return just keep going south .. I am not sure but we have to figure that out.. if we have to do the loop we will but we are trying to avoid going back north -- thanks for the suggested itinerary. We like a lot of what you did and will try to incorporate some of it.. particularly Glenorchy ..and the drive to Milford sound.. what you said we have heard over and over again. I will post back with a modified plan and see if we did better:)
Mar 26, 2013 3:06 PM
10Sorry you asked and I forgot to say we are going end of next Jan and returning in Feb .. will will be in Melbourne first for the Tennis open starting on Jan 17 and there fore 6 days.. 2 days at the open and the day we arrive to recoup do a city tour and then the other three days to do the great ocean road and the island with the penguins.. so we might be able to grab a day from there to add to NZ we would head for NZ Jan 22 or 23 and then 13-14 days there then on to Sydney for three days before our return home to NY.. Since it is NZ summer we are trying to nail down all our plans now so we can be sure to get reservations.. some of the cheaper flights to NZ from Melbourne and back to Sydney are already sold out so I am really trying to make this decision because once we book either one way cc and queenstown or RT we are committed:)
Mar 26, 2013 4:19 PM
Mar 31, 2013 6:56 AM
12So we made the decision to Queenstown to CC and not a loop. Partly due to airline ticket availabilty which is quickly disappearing!
So as is stands this is the plan--We have not really planned out all of what we are doing yet so would love some suggestions..its tight but allows us to hit all the main sights in a short period of time --We really want to do the train trip and that is why the route is as it is..
Day 1 Fly into Queenstown (gondola ride explore the city) only have late afternoon
Day 2 Queenstown (Visit Glenorchy)
Day 3 Queenstown (undecided day)
Day 4 Te Anau -early drive to Te Anau-(undecided day)
Day 5 Te Anau- Milford sound full day tour
Day 6 Wanaka- early drive to Wanaka (undecided day)
Day 7 Wanaka Hike in Mt Aspiring
Day 8 Drive to Mt Cook- (undecided day)
Day 9 Mt Cook -Glacier Explorer Tour -not sure what else yet
Day 10 Early or late Drive to Christchurch depending on where we want to spend this day (unplanned thus far) DROP OFF CAR
Day 11 Early Tranzalpine train to Greymouth --pu car and head to Franz Josef explore late afternoon
Day 12 Day Hike Fox Glacier
Day 13 Mid day train back to CC
Day 14 Christchurch Full day trip to Banks and Akaroa
Day 15 Flight does not leave till 5PM so we have some time in town before we head to Sydney
Mar 31, 2013 1:38 PM
Apr 1, 2013 10:44 AM
14So are you saying that I might be able to take a bus to the glaciers and if we stay there we may not need a car? That would be nice. What about getting around that area then from Franz to Fox is there transport around there? Is it walkable (somehow I am doubting that ) Just trying to see what my options are. thanks
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